On the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Sapporo:
Roadmap to 1.5℃, agreement to accelerate decarbonization needed at G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima
April 17th, 2023
Climate Action Network Japan (CAN-Japan)
The communiqué (consensus document) from the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment held in Sapporo, Japan on April 15-16, has been finalized, which will serve as a touchstone for agreements on environment and energy at the G7 Leaders’ Summit to be held in Hiroshima from May 19-21.
One of the focal points of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report released in March was the warning from scientists that we need to take all possible climate change action right now, and, as Russia continues its aggression against Ukraine, whether we can agree on concrete measures to break our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate a just transition to clean energy.
On climate change and energy, the communiqué specified targets and measures for the introduction of offshore wind and solar power generation by 2030, and was the first time for the G7 to mention accelerating the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels. Additionally, it also included the need to end the construction of new unabated coal-fired power plants. However, the G7 leaders only “reaffirmed” their commitment to achieve a fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035, as agreed upon in last year’s G7 Leaders’ Communiqué, but failed to strengthen the commitment to fully decarbonize the power sector. In addition, the communiqué allowed for investment in the gas sector under certain conditions, and did not specify a date for when coal-fired power generation is to be phased out, as the United Kingdom and France were reported to have requested.
Although progress has been made since last year’s agreement, it has left the door open for the preservation of coal-fired, gas, and nuclear power. As G7 agreements have many implications for the succeeding COP agreement, this could hinder ambitious consensus building at COP28 this fall.
As the host country of this year’s G7 summit, Japan was expected to lead in the discussion on accelerating climate change measures, yet was reportedly reluctant to specify a date for the phase-out of coal-fired power generation or introduction of electric vehicles (EVs).
The use of hydrogen and its derivatives (ammonia, etc.) in the power sector, which the Japanese government is said to have emphasized inserting in the communiqué, was included with the conditions that NOx and N2O emissions are avoided, and that it is consistent with a 1.5°C pathway and decarbonization of the power sector by 2035. However, co-firing hydrogen and ammonia with fossil fuels for power generation, which is promoted by the Japanese government, is not endorsed by the G7 in the agreement, as it has little impact on emission reductions and is not consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.
At the upcoming G7 Hiroshima Summit in May, a more ambitious agreement is required for the G7 to lead the global effort to achieve the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.
As the host country, Japan should not be focusing on building consensus around reliance on new technologies to prolong the life of fossil fuels. We expect Japan to lead the discussion on what should be done in this critically important decade to achieve the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement, and to provide a concrete roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy, including setting a date for the phase-out of coal-fired power generation in line with the Paris 1.5℃ target.
CAN-Japan members made the following comments:
At the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Sapporo, G7 made a small progress on the target of expanding renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions, yet is far from the ambition required. Despite IPCC’s clear warning of possible overshoot from the 1.5C target, G7 was not able to endorse an ambitious action plan needed to drastically cut emissions, to phase out all fossil fuels with a specific date, and to accelerate a transition to decarbonized societies. Especially on automobiles, their ambition was too low to address the current crisis as it fails to commit to a 50% reduction of CO2 emissions from G7 vehicle stock by 2035, relative to the level in 2000. While more countries supported clearly stating a deadline for the sales target of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), Japan showed its lack of will from the beginning, and as a result, no detailed measurable target was adopted. It is regrettable that the countries with major car manufacturers were not able to show their leadership towards global decarbonization. In the spirit of “G7, be ambitious”, the Kishida government needs to take a leadership role in setting ambitious targets of ending internal combustion engines (ICE) with a clear deadline and promoting ZEVs.
– Hirotake Koike, Senior Political and External Affairs Officer, Greenpeace Japan
Clause 52 of the “G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers’ Communique”, “Carbon Markets and Carbon Pricing,” states that “carbon pricing as key measures in promoting a transformation to net zero, driving cost- efficient emission reductions.” As the Communique mentioned that “the IPCC report states that equity and distributional impacts of carbon pricing instruments can be addressed by using revenue from carbon taxes or emissions trading to support low-income households,” G7 governments also believe the importance of direct returns (= cash back) to citizens.
As an example, in Canada, 100% of carbon pricing income is invested in the carbon pricing trust fund and returned to each household every month. In Ontario it rises to $186 a month. Most households are getting more than the increase in energy prices.
We, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Japan, hope that the G7 summit will serve as an opportunity for the Japanese government to revise the system as the income (=budget) from carbon pricing directly returns (=cashback) to the people.
– Takeshi Uchida, Vice President, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Japan (CCL Japan)
The G7 ministers’ agreement has been made some progress since last year’s agreement. For the first time, the G7 mentioned the need to accelerate the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels. However, countries have left the door open for the preservation of coal-fired, gas, and nuclear power. In addition, the G7 noted the use of hydrogen and its derivatives (such as ammonia) in the power sector. Hydrogen / ammonia co-firing technologies for thermal power generation have little impact on emission reductions and are not consistent with the 1.5°C pathway. The communiqué should not be interpreted as an endorsement of these “new technologies” by the G7.
As the host country of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, Japan has a responsibility to specify its own roadmap with specific timelines and targets for a phase-out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy, including the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, in order to achieve the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.
– Mie Asaoka, President of Kiko Network
The G7 Sapporo Ministerial Meeting agreement on numerical targets for the introduction of solar and wind power as a means to achieve the Paris 1.5 degree goal, is a step forward. However, it is not a sufficient response to the urgency of the climate crisis. The list of unsettled technologies such as greenwashed ammonia/hydrogen co-firing with fossil fuels, CCS/CCUS/DACCS, as well as risky nuclear power, obscure the top priority for maximizing energy efficiency and a just transition to 100% renewable energy solutions. The Japanese government’s success in excluding a clear deadline for coal phase-out from the G7 communique symbolizes that the deal of the meeting could be better without Japan. It is also important to immediately and completely end public financial support for international fossil fuel projects without any loopholes. Towards the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida must learn from the latest IPCC report and present a roadmap for moving away from all fossil fuels, including coal, which is the essential step to make peaceful renewable solutions.
– Masayoshi Iyoda, Interim Team Lead, 350.org Japan
The Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report states that increasing global average temperature are causing widespread and rapid changes across the globe, that the contribution of greenhouse gases is unequal among countries and also among individuals, and that the effects are disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities, which contribute the least.
The G7 countries are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and are therefore heavily responsible for their emissions. What is now required of the G7 countries was to agree to significantly increase their own reduction targets (NDCs) by COP28 and to eliminate all coal-fired and fossil fuel-fired power plants as soon as possible, not just unabated ones. However, no agreement was reached on the timing of the phase-out of coal-fired and fossil fuel-fired power plants, and although it is stated that NDC “will review and strengthen the 2030 NDC target,” it is not clear whether the G7 countries will specifically strengthen their NDC. This communiqué must be regarded as extremely inadequate.
On the other hand, as for the “Loss and Damage Fund,” I welcome this communiqué saying G7 countries will “actively work” on it. I hope that at COP28, G7 countries will be proactively involved in the “Loss and Damage Fund” and promise to provide funding for it.
– Mitsutoshi Hayakawa, Managing Director, Citizens’ Alliance for Saving the Atmosphere and the Earth (CASA)
Climate Action Network Japan（CAN-Japan）